CMS promises ICD-10 regulation, guidance is coming

Anyone attending the American Health Information Management Association's (AHIMA) ICD-10-CM/PCS and Computer-Assisted Coding Summit isn't learning a lot about the new ICD-10 timeline.

On Tuesday, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) official Godwin Odia insisted that Medicaid was ready for ICD-10 implementation on Oct. 1, 2014. He said it's an "urban myth" that CMS wasn't ready and was behind the delay.

But he didn't have any more information about what CMS was going to do about the ICD-10 deadline being moved at least a year down the road.

Summit attendees got just a little bit more information Wednesday when CMS' Denise Buenning addressed the Protecting Access to Medicare Act. According to tweets from from conference, Buenning said:

  • CMS was surprised by the ICD-10 delay in the legislation signed into law April 1.
  • "Regulatory language is being drafted and we are working toward getting the word out."
  • The Department of Health & Human Services will make an announcement soon.

My guess is that there are a lot of ideas being thrown around CMS. No one wants to release any hints because they don't want anyone acting on those hints when there is a chance that the final decision will be different.

While an ICD-10 delay will disrupt ICD-10 plans and budgets, HHS won't want to compound the disruption. For example, allowing healthcare providers to submit either ICD-9 or ICD-10 claims sounds like a Solomon-like decision. But it would create havoc for healthcare payers who would need to sort out the different types of codes and maintain two sets of DRGs. That could disrupt reimbursements to healthcare providers.

The timing will be tricky for anything other than simply moving the deadline to Oct. 1, 2015. That may be the least disruptive option for the healthcare industry too.

We're just going to have to wait for a HHS announcement.